California Residents moving overseas for a better retirement
Spiraling costs, high taxes, and a hectic pace of life are motivating Baby Boomers to leave the Golden State behind and retire overseas, according to a new report from Internationalliving.com. They are choosing , and the costs are lower than at home.
California-based retirees are setting their sights on better-value options abroad. The allure of adventure and the opportunity to upgrade their lifestyles—without busting their budgets—is increasing the appeal of a host of overseas retirement destinations.
“When people look beyond our U.S. borders, they are pleasantly surprised by the high standard of living to be found at a much lower cost,” says International Living Executive Editor, Jennifer Stevens. “It’s not unusual for west-coast expats to say that while they loved California, there was no way they could ever have afforded a home close to the ocean in retirement, let alone one with a waterfront view—that’s the prerogative of the wealthy alone these days. Yet retired overseas, a life with a water view is exactly what they have—on a decidedly middle-class budget. We hear all the time: ‘It’s like California but for a fraction the cost.’”
By looking to a lower-priced spot abroad, it’s possible to retire years earlier than expected. Paula Nunes, for instance, moved full-time to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016. She’d already been planning her move to San Miguel, but losing her job gave her the chance to put her plan into action sooner rather than later.
“My company laid me off,” says Paula. “And I didn’t want to go out and get another job. Even if I had wanted to, because the cost of living in California and the Bay Area is so high, I would have spent most of my money on rent, gas, and other expenses.”
She bought her Mexico home—a two bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house with two covered outdoor terraces—in the neighborhood of Colonia San Rafael three years ago. “When I bought, the dollar wasn’t as strong as it is now. It was at 15 pesos to the dollar,” says Paula. “It was less than $120,000.”
Last year Paula enclosed and converted her front terrace to a studio. She is also adding a covered rooftop terrace so she can enjoy her surroundings and the views of the Parroquia, San Miguel’s landmark neo-Gothic church.
“I figure by the time I’m finished with everything, it’ll be less than $9,000,” she says. “I couldn’t afford any of this in the U.S.”
And many retirees find their adopted homes allow them a fresh start. Like Mike Clifford and his wife, Wendy, who make their home in Langosta, the quiet community next to Tamarindo on the Pacific Northwest of Costa Rica.
Growing up in Huntington, California, and as a surfer for over 40 years, Costa Rica had been one of the top destinations on Mike’s travel list.
“I was drawn to this area because of the surfing,” he says. “I always heard so many stories of the great waves, nice people, and beautiful country.”
On that first visit in 2000, Mike, 60, and Wendy bought a condo in Tamarindo. Two years later they bought a lot in Langosta. Today, they are owners of Langosta Sports Bar Club, and live in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment just above it.
Langosta is primarily residential with a smattering of nice places to eat, tour agencies, surf shops, a small grocery, and even an art gallery.
“Living in Langosta is the best,” Mike says. “It’s nice and quiet yet close enough to everything else, plus we have our own surf spot that usually isn’t very crowded.”
And although Mike says that the cost of living has risen in Tamarindo and Langosta since he came down in 2000, due to the large influx of tourists, it is still more affordable than home. “Overall, the cost of living in Costa Rica is well below Southern California,” he says.
In locales where the cost of living is lower than in the U.S.—yet the healthcare and quality of life are world-class—people can stop working years earlier than expected, and they are, according toInternational Living’s report.
When Wendy Justice was 51, she and her husband, David, quit their jobs, sold their belongings, and left their home in California on what was to be a trip around the world. They bought one-way tickets to Hong Kong, and began a journey throughout East and Southeast Asia. Today, they make the modern central coast city of Da Nang, Vietnam their home.
“Southeast Asia’s low cost of living continues to be a delight, and one of the reasons why we have chosen to make this part of the world our home,” says Wendy. “Our monthly expenses have rarely exceeded $1,200—barely a third of our budget in the States. Only now, we eat out nearly every day and spend without counting pennies.
“We live in a luxurious, three-bedroom house just minutes from the beach. We never could have afforded to live like this back in the U.S. Best of all, we have a wonderful mix of Vietnamese and expat friends—including fellow North Americans—and our social calendar is busier now than it ever was in the States.
“After living in Southeast Asia for so many years, we really can’t imagine ever moving back to California. We’re out of the rat race and our days are stimulating, affordable, and fun. It’s the best lifestyle change we’ve ever made.”
Learn more the best countries to retire to, here: The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2018
About International Living
Since 1979, Internationaliving.com has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, InternationalLiving.com provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. InternationalLiving.com has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.